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Flights of Love: Stories Hardcover – Oct 2 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; American First edition (Oct. 2 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375420908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375420900
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,562,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
When I finished THE READER, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was convinced that the book was autobiogrpahical and that Bernhard Schlink had done what may writers do; tell the one story they have to tell and write several poorly done works hoping to capitalize on the success of their first book. So it was with spepticism that I began FLIGHTS OF LOVE. I was delighted to find that I was wrong, at least on the second point.
Schlink has compiled a wonderful selection of short stories with ironic twists and surprise endings. As he does in THE READER, he deals with relationships and the web people spin for themseles in dealing with lovers and spouses. I felt the strongest of the stories were THE OTHER MAN and THE CIRCUMCISION. In THE CIRCUMCISION and THE GIRL AND THE LIZARD, Schlink revisits the theme of THE READER in terms of deling with Germany's past and the acceptance of it by contemporary Germans. The conflicts between the characters in THE CIRCUMCISION, while specifically dealing with German/Jewish relations are universal and could involve interracial couples as well as couples from different cultures. In THE OTHER MAN Schlink marverls the reader with his incites into the life of a grieving widower and the fact that his wife has had an affair yet maintained a healthy relationship with him.
I felt that THE SON was the weakest of the stories and seemed to have been drawn on themes more common to V.S. Naipaul. I suspect that some of these stories will show up in the movies some day, especially THE OTHER MAN. All in all the stores are well done, provacative and readable. I only look forward to Schlink's next work.
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Format: Paperback
I thought Bernhard Schlink's novel, THE READER, was one of the best books I'd read in years, so I was really happy when I learned of this volume of short stories.
Perhaps the title, FLIGHTS OF LOVE, caused me to expect stories that would be somewhat fanciful; that would be infused with lyricism and poetry (which was exactly what I was looking for at the time). Instead, I found stories that attempted a gritty reality but were, more often than not, quite awkward, both in construction and in language. I certainly can't blame the translation for this because I read these stories in the original German edition, published as LIEBESFLUCHTEN. THE READER was definitely a gritty novel, but it also possessed a grace and dignity I found almost completely lacking in these stories. The two exceptions were the first story, "Girl With Lizard," which, though quite gritty, was also poignant and thoroughly believable and "The Son," which was powerful and subdued.
For the most part, Schlink's characters indulge in the most improbable, rash and downright inane actions...all in the name of love. Perhaps these are the "flights" mentioned in the title, although I saw them more as flights of sheer stupidity than of love. Love really doesn't play a very big part in these stories; infatuation and hormonal inbalance does.
The book's centerpiece, "Sugar Peas," was woven around a premise so preposterous as to be downright silly. Same with "The Circumcision." That story's main character does something very few grown men in their right mind would do and what's worse, he does it for all the wrong reasons. The closing story, "The Woman at the Gas Station" could have been good if only Schlink had allowed his character to make a different decision.
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Format: Hardcover
Let's face it: Most books are pretty good, but few are great. Well, this is one of the great ones. Normally, I prefer a novel to short story collection, but I have to say that this collection is better than most novels. Schlink seems to ask himself, "To what strange places might love drive a person?" His writing is distinctly un-American: poetic, deeply intimate, concise, and above all unashamed. The overall effect is provacative and thought provoking. Each story is unique and unattached to the next, but still focuses on the premise of people driven throughout their lives by love. Each story shows a different way that love can effect a person: in one story, love brings them together, in another drives them apart, in another it causes infidelity, in another it sends a man looking after the man that the dead wife had an affair with. With his Kundera-esque writing style, I was riveted to Schlink's book. Subjects covered: war, religion, art, travel, infidelity, circumcision, lies, sex, falling out of love, family relationships, Jewish prejudice against a German. In each story, the person seems inexplicably driven to these strange places, driven to make strange choices. The "flights" seem unconcious and inevitable, each resulting conflict the believable outcome of the characters personality. Each story flows naturally, and yet, the conflict and resolution is unexpected. If you like this, you may really like "Searching For Intruders" by Byler or "Kissing in Manhatten" by Schlinker.
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Format: Paperback
Bernhard Schlink's FLIGHTS OF LOVE is a curious, uneven, confounding and sometimes brave assemblage of stories, none of which has anything whatsoever to do with actual "flights" of our most treasured and elusive emotion. DIVES OF LOVE would have been considerably more accurate. But that's not a criticism. Schlink delivers some fine swans and at least one Triple-Lindy. My favorite has to be the opener, GIRL WITH LIZARD. There is a strange redemptive quality here, and, as with all of Schlink's fiction, a definite chill in the air. He is playing to his strength when he maintains a good distance from his characters, revealing slowly all the hidden gross machinery that drives them to do what he has them do. When Schlink fails, he does so just as grandly, God bless his Nordic soul. Best example of that, I think, has to be THE CIRCUMCISION, a miserable, too-long, improbable, atmospheric polemic about cold-blooded posturing, hair-trigger sensibilities, and not much else. When Schlink attempts a much warmer author/character relationship, the results are strained, frozen, and never very good. Stories like GIRL WITH LIZARD, SUGAR PEAS, and THE OTHER MAN really go a long way toward saving FLIGHTS OF LOVE from becoming one of the sloppiest diving teams anyone ever saw.
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